In light of recent events concerning Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Kwame Zulu Shabazz’s tweets and the conversations regarding anti-Semitism that followed, our Editorial Board would like to address one aspect of the conversation that we believe is being overlooked.
Due to Shabazz’s generalizations of Jewish and Islamic people in his tweets, Knox’s community now has a group of students and faculty who feel unsafe, marginalized and attacked. The conversation of anti-Semitism on our campus is an emotional one for Jewish students and faculty, many of which have spoken up in response to Shabazz’s tweet.
We now have had a Jewish faculty member, who was harassed with a crude, anti-Semitic graphic being anonymously shoved under their office door. Jewish students are actively expressing their uncomfort with Shabazz’s statements. The Knox community should feel compelled to help ease our peers’ discomfort.
There is no erasing the horrible image that was slid under the professor’s door, nor is there a way to undo the uncomfort that Jewish students and faculty must have felt when reading the tweets that were recently attached on an email thread, however, we as a community have the ability to move forward while keeping the well-being of marginalized groups involved in the incident in our best interest.
Our job as a community is to listen to those affected and try to understand why they feel unsettled due to recent events. Our job is to ask questions about how we can help, what we should know about anti-Semitism, how we can combat generalized stereotypes. We have the responsibility to let those affected talk and to answer them with support and compassion.
Hillel has announced that they will be holding a dialogue for anyone who wishes to speak toward “how hate transpires on our campus” on April 30 at 7:00 p.m. in the Lincoln Room. We urge everyone on campus to attend and at least listen. You don’t have to feel compelled to speak, but you should feel compelled to listen.
As a community, we are here to catch those who fall, talk to those who hurt, listen to those who are oppressed and act toward building a more accepting future. As an academic institution, we are here to face big ideas head on by having intellectual, thoughtful and empathetic conversations about them.